I’m not a homebody. I like going to new places and discovering things I’ve never seen before. Homeschooling provides me with the perfect opportunity to introduce (indoctrinate) my children to my wanderlust lifestyle.
I chose to use The Story of The World by Susan Wise Bauer for our grammar-stage history program. Being the vagabonds that we are, I bought the audiobook version read by Jim Weiss so that we could listen to it in the car sometimes. My children were actually in kindergarten and first grade at the local public school when we started listening to the first volume of SOTW on the Ancient Times. We drove here and there, learning all about Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and the Indus Valley. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy listening to it at first, but the kids did. It grew on me, and now I can’t get enough. I ended up purchasing the Activity Guide and checking our local library for supplemental reading on the different topics. We colored some of the pictures and did a few of the activities suggested. We even made a chicken mummy per the instructions in the AG, about which I have already written a post.
The next year, we were homeschooling full time, but I still purchased Volume 2 (Medieval Times) on audiobook, along with the Activity Guide. We listened to some of it at the dining room table while coloring the corresponding pictures. And again, we listened to some of it while driving all over the place. We did all the corresponding maps in the AG, too. My boys really liked doing the maps, and I was impressed at how they could remember certain places and point them out on another map or globe. Some people don’t care for the way SOTW skips around from place to place, but I like it because it gives you a better sense of what’s happening simultaneously around the world. I liked that when we came to learning about China, say, my kids remembered labeling a previous map about it and could locate the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. Because SOTW is told in a narrative style, it’s more like listening to a historical novel than memorizing a bunch of facts and dates. This held all of our interest much better than I’d imagined. I also chose some of the crafty projects for us to do from this AG.
Volume 3 (Early Modern History) was probably played more in the car than at home. We were going to swimming lessons, Hebrew school, Cub Scouts, science center trips- you name it, we did it. We still colored the pictures, did the maps, read supplemental library books, and did some of the activities from the AG. But I wanted to focus a little more on early American history, so I also had the kids watch the Liberty’s Kids video series, and we did Evan Moor History Pockets about Colonial America. We made butter and wrote with quills and made hardtack to eat.
So much fun.
Our third year of homeschooling, during which we listened to Volume 4 (Modern Times), was thrown off a little by my illness and surgery. It took us a little longer, but we still managed to get through the audiobook by the end of that summer. Our list of supplemental reading was a little shorter but still adequate. The Activity Guide for this volume is quite different though. Instead of pictures to color, students are asked to fill in missing components on an outline of each chapter. This starts to prepare them for the more studious logic stage on the horizon. The activities are less crafty and more academic, but still entertaining. There are two maps for every chapter instead of one. All in all, it’s a little more advanced.
I wouldn’t change a thing about our history studies. I learned so much that I didn’t know from Story of the World. My boys have a history foundation that I know they would not have if I’d kept them in public school. And they certainly would not have gone on as many historically related field trips.
So, SOTW brought history to life with its narrative format and engaging activities. But, to me, the cherry on top of it all was the ability to take my kids to historical museums and sites. What better way to cement those images in their brains than to experience things up close? It’s one thing to read about the close quarters that the passengers endured on the ships headed for the new world. It’s another to see one of those ships in real life and experience the claustrophobia for yourself. We are lucky to live in state from which 8 US presidents have hailed. There’s nothing like sitting on the front porch of Warren G. Harding’s house and hearing about how random people came from all over and chatted with the President on that very porch.
When going through my pictures for this article, I realized just how many experiences my kids have had. We have been very fortunate to be able to travel and have the time and funds to explore our own environs as well. I tried to narrow it down to some of our favorite spots, just to give you some ideas of what is available for history study.
Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past 4.5 years, after their brief stint in the local public school. Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment. Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio. Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature. She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables. You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at www.daysofwonderhomeschool.blogspot.com.